Helloooo…. Is anyone still there?!

Wow… it’s a little dusty around here… It’s been a minute! Or 6 years (ish)…

Whoops. Time flies when you’re having fun. Or not sure what to write. Or can’t write. Or are embarrassed that it’s been so long so you don’t write.

Anyways… I’m baaacccckkkk!! (I think. For this post at least.)

A lot has happened over the last few years, and maybe someday I’ll get into that. But today I’m choosing to focus on something completely unrelated to my family and what I’ve been up to for the last few years. (Sort of…)

Let’s dive in shall we? There has been a consistent theme over the last few years (or decades, or centuries if we’re really being honest) of the church focusing on the message of judgement and shame, and very little on the message of grace and mercy. Especially in the world of the evangelical church. It’s a focus that I have had an incredibly personal experience with that left me disenchanted with the church. To the point that I nearly left the “Church” all together. Several times. The church has taken the unofficial stance over and over that if you commit a sin, particularly a “visible” one, you bear the weight of your shame forever. Note that I said the word “shame” and not “sin”. The church absolutely preaches that your sin is washed away once you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. But they like to keep the shame of that sin hanging around.

You see shame is an easy tool to keep people in line. All you have to do is remind them of what they once did and they will feel that guilt all over again. And guilty people are easy to manipulate. Into doing whatever is you need or want them to do. Shame brings a sense of worthlessness and people want to feel worthy. Of love, of being liked, of being included and so much more. Shamed people are more likely to agree to things they wouldn’t normally because they want to free themselves of that weight. So they will give a little more. Volunteer more. Do anything they can so they no longer feel the shame of past sins. But yet it never seems to be enough.

But that’s not how it’s supposed to work! Once we are saved, all of our past sins are covered by grace. And each sin that occurs going forward (which will happen. We are still human, living in a fallen world) is forgiven the moment we ask God to forgive us. That doesn’t mean that we don’t still deal with the consequences of our sins. We absolutely still do. But we don’t have to carry the weight of the shame anymore.

If you go all the way back to the very first sin in Genesis 3, you will find the account that most of us are familiar with: Serpent meets woman, woman eats forbidden fruit. Woman shares fruit with man, they feel shame and hide from God. God talks to them about it and lays out the consequences of their actions. But at the end of the chapter, before He banishes them from the garden, God does something that is usually glossed over. He makes them clothes so they no longer have to carry the shame of what they did. He didn’t have to, He could have chosen to let them remain naked. But instead he chose to cover them, with grace and mercy (and clothes).

Consequences do NOT equal shame. And the church has got stop encouraging this lie.

Sin is awful and separates us from God. And the effects can last generations. But the grace and mercy that comes with forgiveness covers the shame. And, oh, the freedom that comes with the weight lifted! A freedom that allows us to really live into the full calling that God has for us.

Church, we have to do better. Let’s stop allowing shame to hinder the work of His Kingdom and let people truly live in the freedom that comes with the forgiveness of sin.

Another Angle

So I’ve thought long and hard about this post. I’ve been debating whether or not to write it. And then I debated whether or not I should publish it. In reality, it’s just another post on a subject that has been in the limelight for weeks now. But it’s an angle that most people (mainly Christians) have either ignored or are ignorant about. So here we go:

I love to read. With every book I read, I always analyze it. The characters, the story-line and what I think the author is trying to get at. Some authors tell the same story no matter what. Others are really good at telling different stories even within the same series of books. Some books can be really poorly written, yet have an amazing story-line that makes up for it. And others are well-written, with developed characters, yet the story is boring. It’s what makes it fun for me to read.

A few years ago, I read a trilogy of books that have gotten a TON of attention. You might have heard about them… if not, you’re living under a rock… (in which case, I’m not sure how you found this blog.) In fact, a movie was made about the first one that opened today. Yup, I read the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

Are you done gasping now? Ok… moving on…

There have been countless articles and blog posts and people discussing the ramifications of how this book (and now movie) is dangerous. Most of the ones that come from the Christian sector are focused on the sex aspect of the book. They are soo concerned with how this book has brought to light the “dark secret” of sex and its various fetishes. They cry out that we need to “protect our women” from knowing about BDSM. They fear that marriages will start breaking down because sex has entered mainstream media. (Umm… Hello? Have they not turned on the TV in last decade?) They wonder at the popularity of the book and simultaneously berate those that have read it. They hear that the book contains some questionable material, and write page after page of analysis and warning without every cracking the pages of the very thing they are condemning. There was one (just one) article that I read that touched on the very reason it has become so popular. (I can’t remember where I found it, if I do I will certainly link it here)

Can I tell you a secret? It’s not about the sex….

Sex is not why it’s so popular. The scenes in the book about sex, are not the reason that women are flocking to stores to buy it, or will flock to the theater to see the movie. Sex has almost nothing to do with it.

In short, the book is about the “perfect man”, who has everything a person could dream of, that falls in love with an ordinary girl. A girl, who most people would never think twice about. It details a story that says that it’s ok if he has bad and unhealthy behaviors, because he loves her. And she should accept anything that he says because if she doesn’t, she’ll be alone. Basically, because he is Prince Charming, he gets a free pass to do whatever he wants. And the girl should count herself lucky that she landed such a catch.

That’s what is so dangerous. That is what “the church” should be so concerned with. That is what we need to protect our daughters from. That is what will undermine marriages.

The church (as a whole) has done a terrible job of teaching our children (and by default, society) what a healthy relationship should look like. The church tells us that a “healthy marriage” is one that is a man and a women. It is one where both people go to church. It is a marriage that both parties “saved themselves” for. And as long as you remain a virgin until your wedding day, you get married by a preacher, and go to church services, you will be “happy.” (There’s far more that I want to get into, but I will save that for a future post)

So when a book comes along, that is written in such a way that it is easy to imagine yourself as the main character, that shows that all those dreams that little girls have of “Prince Charming” could come true, it becomes a sensation. That even though that perfect guy actually has some really dark demons, and shows some really terrifying behaviors, it’s ok. It’s ok, because he “fell in love” with someone normal. And because it’s “love”, it’s easy to explain away the bad stuff.

Little girls are taught we just need to fall in love and everything else will work out. As women, we look for that love. And when the church doesn’t teach us what that love is supposed to look like, women look around them to see what others are doing. Instead of demonizing the books and the movies, why isn’t the church showing the world what Love is supposed to look like? Instead of ranting about the perils of this world, why aren’t we sharing the alternative? The church mourns the lost souls who will see this movie and think it is the way that love is supposed to be, instead of stepping out and displaying the amazing Love that is our God.

Instead of shouting about how terrible the book is, why not shout “Over here! This is Love! And it is the most amazing thing you will ever experience!” And then, Live. It. Out.


So much more…

I just got back from the national conference for the company I work for. It’s a direct sales jewelry company, so one would assume we would be learning all about the latest line, sales techniques and how to grow our businesses. And while we did see the new jewelry line and get a few tips about working our business, the vast majority of the weekend was about us. The people.

The theme for the week was “Count it All Joy.” Over and over again we heard about how to find joy, what joy is and how to share joy. We had guests speakers that focused on finding joy in the hard times, and finding joy in our marriages. We had leaders in the company talk about how joy is always within reach and that sometimes our attitude is the only thing standing between us and joy. They talked about how joy can be shared, providing hope for others. They shared how joy gives us a reason to keep on hoping even when we are struggling with what life throws at us. They taught us how you have to have joy if you’re going to enjoy the journey. They told us the difference between happiness and joy.

It’s incredible to me that they spent so much money and time, pouring into us as people… they could really truly, honestly care less about selling. It’s not about the sales for them, it’s about the people. How can they help people find hope and joy. This is the third conference that I’ve been too, and each year it’s been the same. It’s amazing and it’s refreshing. It’s empowering and encouraging. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year and even though it’s non-stop busy for three days, I leave feeling re-energized.

They’ve shown me what it means to operate with integrity, to never compromise my beliefs, all while focusing on the people around me, looking for opportunities to provide hope and joy. Being a part of this company has made me a better person…

This little jewelry business that I have? Is so much more than a business….